The number of Black/African American and Latinx engineering graduates is increasing over time, but there is still far from equitable representation.
Between 1990 and 2019 the total number of Black/African American and Latinx students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering increased nearly fourfold: these programs became more diverse simply because initial representation of Black/African American and Latinx students was abysmally low. Yet we have a long way to go to achieve equity in the engineering profession.
The Latinx share of bachelor’s degrees in engineering increased from 3 percent to 13 percent between 1990 and 2019, while holding steady at 4 percent for Black/African American students over the same time period.
This change in bachelor’s degrees conferred that favors Latinx students is partly reflective of changes in demographics. The Latinx college-age population increased from 12 percent to 23 percent between 1990 and 2019 (while Black/African American population share declined slightly, from 14 percent to 13 percent).
It would take up to 256 years at the current pace to achieve equity for Black/African American engineers.
Source: 2021, “Mission Not Accomplished: Unequal Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and LatinX Engineers,” Georgetown University
Workforce Gender and Ethnicity Gap in Biomedical Engineering
Challenge: A renewed commitment to hiring diverse faculty that can contribute to the in-classroom experiences of Black/African American and Latinx students, and women.
Disparities continue to persist after degree completion.
Women’s representation in engineering occupations has been improving, but barely. Ten years ago, 15 percent of engineers were women. Today it is only 1 percentage point higher: 16 percent.
Job tenure is also troublesome as women are much more likely to leave the profession. About 43 percent of women working in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professions left their full-time STEM-related jobs after having their first child, compared to 23 percent of men. Cultural norms that place a greater proportion of parenting and elder care responsibility on women cause them, in general, to leave their careers more often than men.
In 2018, women represented fewer than 12% of tenured or tenure-track faculty in Full Professor of Engineering roles.
Source: The American Society for Engineering Education
Pay Gap in Biomedical Engineering
Challenge: Equal pay for Black/African American and LatinX engineers.
Black/African American and Latinx engineers earn less than White engineers across the board. In fact, a Black/African American or Latinx engineer generally must earn a graduate degree in engineering to earn as much as a White engineer with a bachelor’s degree. On average, a White worker with no more than a bachelor’s degree in engineering earns $90,000 a year, whereas a Black/African American or Latinx worker with a graduate degree on top of their engineering bachelor’s degree earns an average of $87,000 and $92,000, respectively
Women still earn nearly 10% less than men in biomedical engineering (2020)
Source: 2020 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.